A couple of weeks ago one of my regular contributors Jo wrote a comment about her experience and some of the realisations she was having. Firstly, thank you Jo, it is great to get feedback from people such as yourself as it helps me to know that I am helping people. It is a nice reminder to me about my motivation in writing this blog.
Jo realised that she was grieving for the “old” version of herself and was wondering if this was why in the past she had hit a wall in her weight loss journey. I think she may be on to something very important here and it is likely to be relevant for many of you too.
You may remember a few weeks ago I wrote about “identify beliefs” and how we can get stuck if we don’t change how we perceive our identity. What Jo was describing sounds like it is connected to this concept in that it was almost as if we are letting go of who we are. This can create many unwanted feelings such as sadness, guilt and fear.
So how do we handle this?
We can start by considering the NLP model of neurological levels as developed by Robert Dilts. Each level of this model influences the rest, the higher up the model you go the more influence is exerted down through the layers. I think it was Einstein who suggested that we cannot change anything on the level that it was created. This means that the best way to impact on our identity is from the Spirit level.
If you would like to read more background on this model go to the resources section of our website, you will find several articles that will give you more detail.
Going to the spirit level is really about going bigger picture and considering “who for?” or “what is my mission?” So for someone with an identity about their weight we might also need to look at what other identities they hold, e.g. relationship identities (mother, friend, sister etc). This will help to work out some important values when beginning the change work.
Let’s do a worked example.
For someone with the identity belief “I am fat” we need to start by understanding what this identity was for and how it fit in with others. We can only truly appreciate our identities by recognising where it places us in our world. This might be in our family system for example. What did being the “fat one” give us? How did it set up dynamics with those around us?
Take some time to write down what your “identity” did for you. Focus on what advantages, protections and permissions this identity gave you. If necessary go back to some of my earlier blogs where I wrote about positive intentions, secondary gains and ecology. Go into as much detail as you can. Sometimes it can be challenging uncovering all the important aspects of your identity, for example you may recognise some outcomes that do not appear very positive, for example being teased or even bullied by others. For outcomes such as this take a deep breath and step into your courage and ask yourself the questions:
“What did being teased and bullied by others give me?”
On the surface such experiences appear to be just negative and let me be very clear. It is not okay for people cruelly tease and bully others. That said, if you are to take back your own personal power it is time for you to acknowledge what such experiences gave you at the identity level.
Perhaps you developed a sharp wit or great sense of humour. Perhaps you developed great dignity and grace of spirit. Perhaps you stood up for yourself. Perhaps it made you more sensitive to the feelings of others so that you always treat others gently. These are just a few ideas, maybe for you it was something else. I just know that outside of your awareness you will have gained something even from the harsher side of life.
Take a look at the list you have created of all the advantages, protections and permissions that your old identity has provided for you. As you look at this list how many of these are important for you to keep as you transform your identity? How many are now out of date and no longer needed?
The good news I have for you is that you are going to transform your identity keeping all those aspects that are still valuable and useful to you as you step into your new identity. You will still be you!
Write down “how you want to be different”.
What is your new identity label?
What is the purpose of your transformed identity? What are you here to do?
You may have spent a lot of your life thinking about your weight and may not have had time to explore what is out there and what contribution you can make to the world. Maybe now is the time!
Perhaps you want to inspire others by sharing what you have discovered and being a role model. Perhaps you want to be a fantastic mother/father/friend/partner. Perhaps make a difference in the world.
Write down all the advantages, permissions and protections of this new identity making sure you include all the important ones from how you used to be.
You are now going to write two letters. The first one is to your former self. In this letter I want you to write a gentle, kind and appreciative letter acknowledging everything your former identity has done for you and everything that had to be endured. Take your time to praise your former self and to reassure your former identity that you will keep all the important learning and strategies in your transformed self. Gently confirm that you are ready to transform your identity and that transformation is about change.
What the caterpillar sees as the end of the world
is just the beginning for the butterfly.
Once you have completed this letter put it away somewhere with love and care. You could even put it in a time capsule and bury it outside.
Now write a letter to your transformed self. In this letter detail how excited you are to start this new life with your new way of being in the world. This letter is more a mission statement and a compass for the future. Write down what you plan to do with your life and how you will be. Use as much detail as you can to describe what your future holds, what you will be contributing to those around you and what is important to you now.
And remember to thank your transformed self for remembering to apply all the learning from your former self and to incorporate that into “who” you are now. This letter can become a daily source of inspiration for you. You can add to it or re-write it regularly as your purpose becomes clearer.
Do let me know how you get on with this exercise and anything else that you would like help with.
It would be great to meet you so do come and join me for one of my workshops. We offer NLP training from introduction right up to Trainer’s Training, hypnotherapy and coach training. For more details take a look at our website. There are still some places on our free 2 day introduction to NLP next month in Sussex.